Boston, MA (PRWEB) September 05, 2014
In recent months the retail industry has experienced an onslaught of data security breaches, placing millions of consumers at risk of becoming victims of identity theft. What’s worse is that according to a recent online survey by American Consumer Credit Counseling 41 percent of respondents are not confident that they know what to do to protect themselves if their information has been compromised – a risk that could prove costly; credit card and debit card fraud cases in 2012 resulted in losses totaling $11.27 billion as indicated by Cardhub.com.
To help consumers minimize the damage, national nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling has released an “Identity Theft Checklist,” a step-by-step guide for consumers on what to do and how to protect themselves from financial damage if their identity has been stolen.
“Identity theft has become a national epidemic with millions of Americans’ personal and financial information stolen from the systems of major corporations such as Home Depot, Yahoo, Target and Neiman Marcus,” stated Steve Trumble, president and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “If you do find that your privacy and security have been violated, make sure you take the necessary precautions to ensure that the thieves do not destroy your credit score and financial future.”
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the total number of breaches tracked from 2012 to 2013 have dramatically increased by 30 percent, which may be the reason for the overwhelming sixty-four percent of American consumers that no longer trust retailers with their financial information according to the American Consumer Credit Counseling survey.
If you have misplaced your driver’s license, credit card, debit card, or social security card, or you are one of the millions of consumers affected by a retail data breach, you could be at risk for identity theft. ACCC’s “Identity Theft Checklist” will help you sort through the steps if you are at risk or have been a victim.
1. Contact each of the three credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – and ask to place an identity theft alert on your reports.
a. Often if you are a victim of a large-scale security breach such as the 2007 TJX Corporation or 2013 Target breaches the corporation at fault will provide you with 1 year of free monitoring at no cost to you.
2. Contact your bank and creditors. You can report stolen/missing cards, as well as any fraudulent activity on your statements. You can also close/freeze any accounts that have been tampered with.
3. Contact the Federal Trade Commission. File a complaint with the FTC and you will receive a document verifying that you are the victim. Then, fill out the ID theft affidavit.
4. Contact your local police department. File a report with local police. Your identity should be treated like any other stolen property. Document and report the theft to begin the investigation. Get a copy of the report as evidence for re-securing your identity and removing the fraudulent charges.
“The most common way that thieves use stolen information is to open a credit account or a bank account,” added Trumble. “By contacting each credit reporting agency, you can assure that your money is protected and that any fraudulent accounts under your name will be flagged before they can unjustly ruin your credit score.”
For more information on Identity Theft please visit the Education section of ACCC’s website: http://www.consumercredit.com/financial-education/identity-theft.aspx
ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization, that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:
About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management and debt relief through education, credit counseling, and debt management solutions. In order to help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loans, homeownership, identity theft, senior living and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit TalkingCentsBlog.com.